May 30, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Health Care Reform Advocacy
Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis of the final American Health Care Act (AHCA), predicting that 23 million more Americans would be without health insurance by 2026, including 14 million over the next year.
The legislation, designed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would dramatically impact patients' access to care in California. Under the ACA, California’s uninsured rate dropped from 17 percent of the population to a record low of 7 percent. More than 5.2 million Californians gained coverage under the ACA, either through Medicaid expansion or the Covered California exchange.
The AHCA would reverse these positive health care gains, cutting approximately $884 billion from the Medicaid program, which serves our most vulnerable patients: seniors, the disabled, children and those living in poverty. The AHCA cuts California’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal) by at least $24 billion per year.
“Policymakers should remember that these data points represent American lives,” said CMA President Ruth Haskins, M.D. “While the ACA is not perfect, we must focus on reforms that improve patient access to physicians and dentists; we cannot afford to go back to a system that leaves millions of Californians uninsured or unable to afford care."
The CBO analysis found that 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured in 2026, twice as many as the 28 million who would have been without insurance under the ACA. The report also found that some of the nation’s sickest and those over age 50 would pay much more for health care under the AHCA, potentially driving them out of the insurance market.
The increase in the number of uninsured is due to the Medicaid cuts and the lack of income-based tax credits to help low- to moderate-income families afford coverage. Some of the increase was also related to the state waivers that would allow insurers to charge much more for older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.
The CBO report also showed that the House-passed AHCA would cost $32 billion more than the previous version, without a decline in the numbers of uninsured. The bill also repeals $664 billion worth of ACA taxes on the wealthy, device manufacturers, tanning salons and high-end health benefits offered by health plans.
Click here to read the CBO report.